Lincolns Inn – A brief History

Again I am sorry about the time between posts life unfortunately seem to be very busy right now. However I hope this post makes up for the unintentional silence.

 

The Tudor esq buildings of lincolns Inn Image My own

The Tudor esq buildings of lincolns Inn Image My own

Before I left GraysInn when my contract finished I too the opportunity to have a mooch around Lincolns Inn across the road. Unlike GraysInn the buildings are more Tudor-esq with the diamond pattern in the brick work, the Tudor red coloured brick and the ornate chimney pots that would look at home at Hampton curt palace. Lincolns Inn is one of the 4 big Inns of Court in London (Grays, Middle Temple and Inner Temple being the other 3)

 

The date exact of its foundation is is unknown but of all the Inns it has the earliest excistig records known as black books which date back to 1422. The Inn is on land that once belonged to the Bishop of Chichester near Chancery Lane. Lincolns Inn finally owned the land in 1580 when Bishop Richard Sampson sold it to a bencher at the Inn in 1537 called William Suliard and his son went on to sell the land to the Inn in 1580. During its early years especially in the 15th century the Inn was not a prosperous place.

 

Lincolns Inn is walled in and is made up of 3 squares known as Old Square, Old buildings and Harwicke Buildings. It is worth noting that the New Square is sometimes known as Serle Court after Henry Serle.

 

War Memorial in Lincolns Inn Image My Own

War Memorial in Lincolns Inn Image My Own

The old hall at Lincolns Inn is said to date from 1489 and originally was 71 foot long and 32 foot wide, however the hall was remodelled several times in then 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. It was lovingly restored between 1924-27 and reopened by Queen Mary on 22nd November 1928.

 

The hall has been used as a court of law and was mentioned in Charles Dickens Bleak house:

 

“London Michaelmasterm lately over and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincolns Inn Hall”

 

Stained Glass at Lincolns Inn Image my own

Stained Glass at Lincolns Inn Image my own

Today the hall is host to nervous students sitting examinations and social functions held by the Inn. I know if I had exams in such a place I would find it hard to concentrate on the exam with all the beauty around me. In many ways it would feel like you were in Hogwarts.

 

Lincoln's Inn Chapel Image My own

Lincoln’s Inn Chapel Image My own

One of the nicest parts of the Inn was the chapel. The history of the chapel starts in 1428 when it was first mentioned. But by the early 17th century, the old chapel was too small for the needs of the Inn and a new chapel was built by Indigo Jones from 1620 to 1623. The building that is there today is that of Jones however Christopher Wren made repairs in 1685 and it was renovated in 1797 and 1883. The chapels bell is said to date from 1596 although there is much debate about this as many think it is later.

 

The bell would chime the 9pm curfew (now only the Tower of London and GraysInn do this) and when a bencher went to meet his maker, it would chime for half an hour from 12:30- 1pm in memorial to him.

 

In side the chapel is very Anglican in style with white wall and closed in pews in dark wood. However it’s not puritan as the windows are stained glass. The space was all in all very peaceful and I was sad to leave when I visited.

 

The ceiling og the Crypt that leads to the Chapel Image My own

The ceiling og the Crypt that leads to the Chapel Image My own

The Great Hall was created when the old hall became too small for purpose. It was opened by Queen Victoria on 30 October 1845. The dimensions of the Great hall are 120 foot long by 42 foot wide. In the history of the Inn it is virtually modern!

 

Important persons that have been fellows at Lincoln’s inn include:

 

William Penn the founder of Pennsylvania USA

David Garrick of the Garrick Theatre London

Cardinal Newman, leader of the Oxford movement, and one of the founders of Trinity College Dublin. Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. 

 

Recently while watching a Miss Marple TV adaptation I saw the Inn in the background. The nearby Lincoln Inn fields was also used in an episode of Time Team.

 

All in all if you are passing through Holborn in London and are looking to see some great buildings I can recommend a wonder around the buildings of Lincoln’s Inn, step from the 21st century and travel back a few century’s to a time when mobile phones didn’t have you tied to civilisation and life was less complicated.

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